GBL death: drug 'should be banned within months', says Government chief advisor
GBL, a legal party drug that killed a promising medical student, should be banned within months, the Government chief advisor on drugs said.
Hester Stewart, 21, was studying molecular medicine at Sussex University
The Daily Telegraph disclosed that Hester Stewart, 21, an "outstanding'' student whose ambition was to become a surgeon, died after taking the GBL in Brighton last month.
Prof David Nutt yesterday stressed that he had made a "strong recommendation" that it should be controlled - in a report published last August - and said he was "very optimistic" that officials would act imminently.
He spoke after The Telegraph had asked questions on behalf of Miss Stewart's family about GBL at a meeting of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), that he chaired in London. "It is well known that we made a strong recommendation that it should be controlled and we are hoping that will be happening very shortly," he said. "It should not take very long." Prof Nutt added that GBL was "unquestionably as dangerous" as GHB, the similar date-rape drug that was made illegal in 2003.
Maryon Stewart, Hester's mother, said after the meeting: "It is comforting that he has reiterated the recommendation and that he is optimistic that it will be banned for use in the very near future. I hope that the Home Secretary will recognise the urgency of this situation and share that viewpoint." Mrs Stewart has written to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, calling for the drug to be banned immediately. She believes her daughter would still be alive had she been aware of the risks of taking the substance.
Toxicology test results have now confirmed that GBL was found in Miss Stewart's body and police have told her parents that the drug, mixed with a small amount of alcohol, was the direct cause of her death. GBL - which is used as an industrial solvent - can be bought on the internet for as little as 10 pence a dose. Because it is used in the plastics industry, as a nail polish remover and to clean bicycle chains, officials have been delayed in framing the legislation while they consult industry.
It has already been banned for personal use in America, Canada and Sweden. A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We have not committed to ban GBL or classify it as a drug at this stage but work continues to look at how access to this chemical can be restricted to legitimate purposes. A consultation will be shortly launched with the chemical industry and the wider public before a decision is made." GBL is one of the many "legal high" drugs available, some of which are thought to be harmless even though they can prove deadly.
The ACMD said yesterday that they had also recently written to the Home Secretary about the herbal mixture called Spice, which is sold as an alternative to cannabis. Prof Leslie Iversen said that the herbal mixture was laced with synthetic chemicals which can make it up to 100 times more potent than cannabis. "The risks are unknown and are potentially very great," he said. Prof Iversen added that the drug suppliers had found an "ingenius" business model that avoided the cannabis law.
The telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukn...hin-months-says-Government-chief-advisor.html
By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent Last Updated: 10:48PM BST 14 May 2009 Hester Stewart
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